Husband & Wife Articles


Our Family Tree

Beyond our earthly relations, we are God’s children

By Darcie Nielsen

We’ve all heard the expression, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” As parents, we don’t always like to think it’s true, but we find ourselves saying the same phrases our parents said to us. Or we hear ourselves speak to our spouse in the ways our parents spoke to one another. We can get frustrated because we realize that as much as we’re trying to establish our own ways of parenthood and marriage, we’re still pretty close to the tree.

Nielsen Family

It’s no wonder that doctors always ask about family history, looking for genetic clues and predisposition to certain illnesses. The family tree is an important part of who we are.

The same is true when we look at habits, virtues and ways of Christian living. These are also passed down through generations. We see this throughout the Bible; for example, when the Lord said to Abram:

“I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will find blessing in you” (Gen 12:2-3).

Blessings and curses are passed down.

As we navigate the parenting waters, we recognize how much we impact our children by our words and example, for better or for worse. That is the beauty, or the curse, of the family tree. Our virtuous actions can have rippling effects throughout our family, but so can our sinful actions. Marriage highlights these facts in a particular way because the husband and wife have become one flesh, so the actions of one spouse have direct impact on the other. Yet husbands and wives are responsible for helping one another get to heaven. This is no small task! So often it can be easier to recognize the faults in the other instead of in ourselves, which is why we need to be working on our personal conversion daily.

Let us ask ourselves now: What are we passing onto our children? Love of things of this world, such as sporting events, vacations, gadgets? Or love of heaven, found in sharing with one another, peace, joy, mercy, trust? Also, how we are living for our spouse? Our personal daily conversion, our struggle toward virtue and holiness, is more important than we realize. It is more powerful and impacts more people than we could ever know in this life. Confession and frequent reception of the Eucharist help us in our journey and allow Jesus to enter more fully into our hearts and lives.

We may pass over the lineage of Jesus without thought, but it forms a vital part of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. It’s so important because this lineage shows the human and divine sonship of Jesus. This means everything to us, who are heirs with Jesus. St. Paul writes of God the Father:

“In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved” (Eph 1:5-6).

We have been adopted into the family of Jesus. We are sons and daughters of God! Being part of the Body of Christ, we are also connected to the saints and angels. Our family tree in Jesus is full of blessings! This good news is the invitation we are called to share with our brothers and sisters who have not yet come to know the Lord. It is the gift given at Baptism and brought to fulfillment in the other sacraments. Let us help God in bringing everyone into his family tree, especially by beginning with our spouse and children.

The journey of Lent brings us to the foot of the ultimate family tree – the cross on which Jesus died for us. This tree is the one that we want to remain close to. It is here where hope can always be found. No matter the shape and vigor of our natural family tree, we belong to the family tree of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Darcie Nielsen and her husband, Christian, live in Boston with their eighteen-month-old daughter. They are expecting their second child in August. Darcie blogs at